There are exceptions, but the words "school lunch" don't normally conjure up the image of elegant cuisine.

For some youngsters, being handed a lunch ticket is as bad as a traffic citation. The proof of the disdain in which pupils hold school lunch can be found in the ultimate judge - the garbage can. Waste is horrendous.But Granite School District is taking a bold new step to reshape its school lunch image. It is preparing to contract with Marriott Corp. to provide meals at all district schools next year. Granite will be the first district in the state to privatize the food service - at no extra cost.

Marriott Corp., the owner of an international chain of elegant hotels, is no stranger to school lunches. It has a division that provides such meals in 173 school districts throughout the country. But when it comes to food, Marriott is perhaps better known as a provider of in-flight meals for airlines.

That leads to some interesting possibilities for changes in the traditional school cafeteria.

Instead of being seated around a table, will Granite District students be served while seated elbow-to-elbow in rows of three seats?

Will the cafeteria be divided into first class and tourist, with student officers, athletes and scholars seated in first class?

Will there be seat belts? Teachers might like this.

Will stewardesses serve the meals?

Actually, Marriott officials promise fresher, tastier food and a wider variety of it - and food that looks good as well. Students, parents and school officials will be asked to comment on the new food program during the next year.

It will be an interesting experiment, one that is sure to be watched closely by other Utah school districts. For now, Granite District will fly solo, but the prospects are promising. After all, Marriott has never lost a school district customer yet.